Monday, January 27, 2014

Tinkerbell 10k Race Re-Cap

After all of the excitement of the Neverland 5k, I didn't think that the weekend could get much better, but it did!!

My sister and I spent the day after running the 5k at Disneyland! We were lucky enough to walk right onto many of our favorite rides! We called it an early day, went back to the hotel to change for our dinner at Napa Rose.

Before our reservation though, we hit the Expo again, this time to be taped by KT Tape professionals. I use KT Tape for just about all of my races and long runs over 5 miles. I think I do a good job taping myself, but I wanted to be taped by a professional, just once!

The line for being taped was INSANE!! Seriously, we waited over an hour. After just about giving up, it was finally our turn and I had pretty "Tinkerbell" green tape applied. I was happy to see that I apply my tape pretty much the same way as the professional taper did. The only difference was that she used the KT Tape adhesive spray, which made it really hold tight! (I need to get some of that!)

After finally being taped, we headed over to the Californian Grand Hotel (beautiful!!) and our most anticipated dinner at Napa Rose!!

We had the best time! The wait staff was wonderful, and the food was out of this world!! I started with the Signature Pizzetta, which was to DIE FOR! It was also huge and I got to take over 1/2 of it with me (a great post-marathong treat!!)  My sister enjoyed a whole basket of their gluten-free vegan bread along with the Apple Salad! She hadn't had bread in over 5 years and REALLY enjoyed it!!

For our main course, I ordered the Truffle Stuffed Chicken, and my sister allowed the chef to "surprise" her with a vegan feast! We were both speechless! The food was just amazing!! We ended the evening with house made ice cream for me and sorbet for my sister!

We pretty much rolled back to our hotel, and fell into a food-induced coma!! We were beyond stuffed!

Another easy early morning wake up! (Gotta love the 2-hour time difference! So much easier than WDW races!). And we were off to the 10k!

The starting line was just across the street from our hotel, so we really didn't have to rush to get there. We stopped for a dance or two at the racers "village" and then made our way up to corral A!!

Just like at the 5k, we were practically in the front of the corral! It was so much fun looking back at the 10, 000 runners and being so close to the starting line stage!

I was really excited to run this race! I love the 10k distance, and I was excited to see what my legs could do on race day 2!!

It wasn't a long wait, and we were off. As planned my sister waved good-bye and she was gone.

The first mile of the 10k was the exact same as the 1st mile for the 1/2. There was a "hill" on which I heard a lot to grumbling, and many people stopped to walk! Then we took a right into the back-stage of Disneyland!

There were many more people running around me during this race, than during the 5k, and that gave me some comfort (running the 5k practically alone was kind of unnerving!). As I made my way through Disneyland, I made sure to stop for lots of pictures. This was going to be a slower run for me, and I wanted to just have fun with it.

It was again a great course!! I love running through the parks, and the Tinkerbell 10k did not disappoint!! There were so many Disney employees lining the course cheering on the runners, along with many non-employee spectators!

There seemed to be a lot more photo opportunities during this race than during the 5k (duh, it was a longer course!), and I did some "character sprints", quickly getting from photo-op to photo-op. It all went by much too quickly, and too soon we were out on the streets of Anaheim for our last 2 miles.

I have to say (and it won't be my last time!) that the city of Anaheim does a great job supporting these races!! There were so many people out cheering us on, the crowd support was outstanding!!

At this point the sun was just coming up, it was still cool out (55 degrees) but the sun was warm, and I started to sweat!!

The course loops around the streets of Anaheim for a few miles and then takes runners to the finish line in the Simba Parking Lot (the same finish as for the 1/2 marathon). I was so excited to cross that finish line and get my 10k medal!! I was smiling from ear to ear!!

It was another great run for me!! Really gave be a boost of confidence! Even though it was not a 10k PR (don't know if I'll ever have another one of those!), it was about the same pace as my last 10k but this time I stopped for tons of pictures!! Win-win as far as I am concerned!!

I completely am in LOVE with this race and this course! It was so much fun!! Tinkerbell 1/2 marathon weekend was just blowing me away!! I couldn't wait for the 1/2 Marathon the next day!!

I know there are many people out there who say that the 10k had some problems, that "too many" people got swept off the course, etc. I cannot say one bad thing about this race!! It was simply perfect!!
The course was exciting, full of character stops, and support! I didn't think it was overly crowded, but definitely felt like it was more of a Disney Race than my lonesome 5k!! The medal is gorgeous!!

As far as my running is concerned, I was very happy with how I did considering all of the pictures I stopped for, and for how long the lines were for the photos (longest wait was 15 minutes!!!).  I only walked once (just enough time to turn my music on for the last few miles!), which is really good for me!!

I was worried about running multiple races back-to-back because I really didn't train very well for back-to-back runs in December (I did really great in November though!). But my legs felt awesome! No soreness, no issues!!

After the race we walked across the street to our hotel (so nice to be so close!), showered, and headed out to the parks! We spent most of the day exploring Disney's California Adventures, and just taking it easy.

After dinner, and the realization that no restaurant would ever be as good as Napa Rose, we called it time for bed. I think we were both sleeping before 7pm!! It was a good thing, though, we had a 1/2 Marathon to run the next day!!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Tinkerbell 1/2 Marathon Expo and Neverland Family 5K Re-Cap

I cannot believe that Tinkerbell 1/2 marathon weekend is over!!! It was a weekend of firsts and a ton of fun!!! It was the first time I had ever run Tinkerbell, my very first trip to Disneyland and my first running trip with my sister (it was her first ever Disney race!!) It was so much fun that I am going through a bit of withdrawal, and thought it was high time to get my recaps up!!

This race weekend was a blast!!

It all started on Thursday, with the Tinkerbell 1/2 Marathon Weekend Expo.

I have to say that I was a little nervous about this expo because of the stories I had heard about the Expo at Disneyland's last race!! 3 hour waits, and a complete shut down!! I was a little panicked about the entire thing! But I have to say that RunDisney did a fantastic job with this expo!! The didn't fix the problem entirely, but at least they tried something new, and as far as my experiences go, it worked!!

Anne and I got to the expo about an hour early. We were shuffled underground (into what I assume is a parking garage?!) where we were separated into the following lines: Official Merchandise, Packet Pick-Up, New Balance Shoes, and Expo Shopping. The lines were not terribly long, there were about 50-60 people in front of us for the Official merchandise. We waited in line for about 20 minutes and then we were shuffled over to another line, and about 20 minutes later we were escorted upstairs to the lobby of the conference center where we waiting in line again. RunDisney started letting people into the Official Merchandise area about 20-30 at a time. It didn't take long and we were also let inside. This was the real killer, because once inside, we waited in another line, but we could see the merchandise!!! It was such a tease!!

Again, it didn't take long and we were inside the Official Merchandise area! I bought 2 car magnets, and a headband! There were lots of cute shirts and I was IN LOVE with the jackets, but just didn't want to spend the $80. RunDisney had a ton of merchandise!! Checking out took all of 5 minutes and then were we off to see what else we could buy!!

I bought a sweatshirt from Endure, a tank from Sparkle Athletic (and I picked up my Schwings!) and that was about it! I thought I did very well!! Of course, I was thinking the whole time that I have to pace myself, PHM weekend is just around the corner!!!

We then made our way back down to the parking garage to collect our packets! We both were running all three races, so we would have to stand in 3 lines each. It took us less than 15 minutes to get all of our packets, with the longest line being the 5k pick up line!! I was very impressed with the speed of these lines.

Back up to the expo (they had a separate door for Expo Only entrance with NO WAITING!!) and we collected our race shirts! These shirts are probably my very favorite race shirts ever! They are cute and fit extremely well!! I was very pleased!! And again, there was hardly any wait time!! Woo!!

After spending the day at Disney's California Adventure, where we were lucky enough to ride the famous Cars ride 4 times with very minimal wait, we had dinner and got to bed early! It was a great first day in California! The weather was perfect! We were so excited about our up coming races!!

We woke up super early (thanks to the time zone change!) and got ready for our 5k!! Getting to this race would be our longest walk (the start and finish of the 10k and 1/2 were directly across the street from our hotel!!), as it started right on Main Street in Disneyland! We walked just over a mile to the start, but it was so magical!! The walk through Downtown Disney was full of twinkle lights and excited runners!! Once we got into the park, it was amazing!! The castle was all dressed up with lights, and the DJ was getting the crowd moving!

Thanks to our early wake up, we were RIGHT at the starting line!! There were no corrals assigned for this race, so it was pretty much first come, first serve! We were right up front, and got to watch the entire starting line show!! It was awesome! Tinkerbell flew through the sky around the castle (which was totally amazing!!!) and of course there were fireworks!!! It was very magical!! Such a different start than the Princess 5k, where you start in a parking lot! This had true Disney style!!! My favorite start of any race ever!!

With all the excitement, it wasn't a long time until the race started! I took off really fast!! It surprised me, at first, but then I remembered that I have been running on snow and ice for the last 3 months, and that running on clear roads was MUCH easier!! I was flying!

We ran past It's a Small World right away! It was so cute all lite up!! I was running so fast, that I actually caught up with my sister (that never happens!!) and she couldn't believe it!! Of course, she had to run faster than me, and she took off!!

As we looped thought the park and back-stage, it occurred to me that there was really no one running around me!! This was REALLy strange for a Disney race!! I was pretty much alone!! IT WAS AWESOME!!! I had clean roads, and was running though Disneyland all by myself!! The second thing I noticed was that were not very many character stops as I remember from the Princess 5k.

I did, however, make it a point to stop at every character and get my picture taken! It was great because there was no lines, or just one or two people in front of me!!

My time in Disneyland ended much too quick and I was off to Disney's California Adventures! I love this park!! It is so pretty! Still I was pretty much alone on the course, and I started to worry a little about being lost! lol!

Stopped again at all the character stops and kept my pace as I hit the finish line! I was overcome with joy when I saw my time! I had PRed AND stopped at all the character stops!! It was an awesome feeling!! I caught up with RunDisney's very own Carissa for a photo (she is so sweet!) and had a chance to finally meet @AccordingtoKelly who high fived me on my PR!! I was glowing!!

Overall this is my most favorite 5k ever! Such an amazing course (very limited time spent in the back-stage areas!)! Running through 2 parks, and having the starting line and the finish line actually IN the park was amazing!!

I had such an amazing time, and it was such a great start to this amazing weekend, I could barely wait for the 10k!!!! 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year!! Team Ortho 14 miler

Happy New Year, everyone!!!

What a year it was!! I made a comeback into running, completing 10 races, and enjoyed running 100 miles in November! Those were the highs! I did not reach my 100 miles in December -- I hardly made a dent in it -- and I have no real excuse!!!

Coming off of November's high, I was very confident that I would be able to reach the goal of running 100 miles in December, and completing the Runner's World Holiday Run Streak. Neither of those goals did I reach. The weather here got too cold for my liking, and somehow December just disappeared!!

I did not, however, miss any training runs -- which I am proud to say!!

And now here it is!! The 2nd day of 2014!!! I have to say, I am very excited about this year!!

Yesterday, I ran the hardest race of my life!!! I am so proud of myself for starting this race, and even prouder to say I finished!!

I ran Team Ortho's Polar Dash 14 miler!! That is the most miles I have ever run at one time! And I have to say that extra 0.90 was a killer!!!

The whole race experience started on New Year's Eve for me. I drove up to Minneapolis to go to packet pick-up -- which was very well organized -- and I was able to not only pick up my Polar Dash packet, but also my Get Lucky packet and my Monster Dash jacket!! It felt a little bit like christmas!!

I stopped by a few of my favorite running stores on the way to pick up some food for the evening. I picked up a couple of pairs of Feetures merino wool socks -- so amazing!! I got a slice of my favorite pizza (arugula and prosciutto!). I seriously could live on this stuff!! Yum! I also picked up some lasagna for that evening's dinner!

I stayed at my sister's apartment, which is slowly becoming race headquarters! We ate a little and then went out shopping for a couple of hours. I knew I wanted to stay off of my feet for the majority of the night, so we headed home early, and put on our pajamas.

We were "real" party animals, considering it was New Year's Eve! I think we both had our jimjams on at around 6:30pm!!

We made out last minute race preparations, setting out our race clothes, checking that we had enough warm clothes for during and after the race, and we sucked down a couple of glasses of Nuun!

Picking out a race outfit was a HUGE challenge for this race!!! It has been extremely cold here in Minnesota for the last 2 weeks, and we knew at the start of the race it would be below zero!!

I decided on -->

1. a Columbia Omni Heat base layer
2. a Smart Wool mid layer
3. a Salomon wind proof jacket
4. a neck gator (ended up with 2)
5. a Smatwool headband
6. a Under Armour Infrared hat
7. fleece leggings
8. Sugio Sub-Zero tights
9. Feetures Merino Wool socks (knee-length)
10. Brooks wind-proof mittens

That is a lot of gear!!!

After preparing as much as we could for the inevitable cold we would be facing, we headed to bed. It was around 9:30 and there was no way my body was going to let me stay up any longer!!

I fell asleep fast, and slept really hard until around 2am, and from then on I tossed and turned about the race. I have to admit that I was very worried about freezing, not being able to finish, or coming in last!!

We woke up at around 6am, and started getting ready. While the race did not start until 9am, we have decided that being early to a race, and having time to relax is much better than arriving late, or not arriving at all!! Plus these Team Ortho races are crazy huge and parking can sometimes be an issue. So, better safe than sorry!!!

We slowly put on our gear, while listening to the t.v. weatherman tell us that it was -9 degrees with a 5mph wind. I was less than thrilled!!!

At about 7am we left the apartment and headed to the race site. It took us about 30 minutes to get to the parking lot, and we were able to get a great spot!! We hung out in the warmth of the car until about 15 minutes after 8 and then headed to the "limos". School busses take runners from the parking lot to the race start and runner's village.

Upon reaching the runner's village, my sister checked her bag of warm clothing to wear after she completed the race, and while she waited for me (she is MUCH faster than I am!!), and I made my last potty stop (Brrrrrrrrrr!!!!!).

We were able to keep slightly warm in the "warming tent" Team Ortho had set up. It was barely warm, and my feet were freezing before I even got to the starting line. It was COLD!!!!!!

We didn't have to wait too long until we were asked to line up and right on time we were off on our 14 mile adventure!!!!

The course was an out-and-back style. There was a 10k race taking place at the same time as the 14 miler, and a 5k starting on the same course 2 hours later.

The course is very pretty, taking runners right along the Mississippi River.

We would run just over 3 miles out, turn and run back to the start (mile 6), turn again and run out to mile 11 and then turn one last time and run to the start/finish!

I have never run this type of race before, and I really thought it was going to SUCK!! I am not one for out-and-back races, or even training runs!! I like loops or place-to-place runs!! But I have to say I was pleasantly surprised!! The first 10 miles seem to fly by, and while I was cold, and my eyelashes were covered with ice, I was having a really good time!!! In fact, I reached mile 11 in record time!! At mile 11, runners make their final turn around, and that is when it hit me that while I only had 3 miles to go, I had to run the course again!!! I also was FREEZING at this point, and nothing was helping. My body was just shutting down. I was done, I was beyond done. I actually thought about stopping, but how could I with just 3 miles to go?!? I just had to get through it.

I couldn't feel my butt or my thighs, so that made running really hard, my feet felt like ice blocks, and trying to pick them up was almost impossible!! It was brutal.

I tried to reevaluate the situation, I tried to think about other things, I tried to stay positive, but my body was really shutting down. I was wet from sweat, I was freezing cold and I just needed to find a way to get to the finish line.

It was those 3 miles that really cost me. While I did not go into this race to get a specific time or for a PR (although I did get a PR because I have never run this distance before!!), I just wanted to finish, and I didn't want to get frostbite!!!

The last 3 miles took me over 45 minutes to "run". Who am I kidding? I pretty much walked/crawled them. One volunteer actually asked me if I was okay, I looked that bad!!

At the 1.6 mile mark, I ran into the lead 5k runner. That picked me up for awhile! And after what felt like forever, I crossed the finish line and received my 14 in 14 medal!!!

I think I will covet this medal above all others for a very long time!!

I was so proud, but completely frozen!!

My sister was a speed demon!! She ran the 14 miles 2 minutes faster than her last 1/2 marathon!!! WOW!! That is freaking impressive!!!! But also a little sad, because I hate having her wait for my slow ass all of the time.

We got back to the parking lot and in the warm car as quick as we could! It took over 2 hours for me to stop completely shaking, and start actually feeling warm!!! I had black spots all over my thighs when I showered, which freaked me out!! But they went away once I got warm!! Yikes!!!

Overall, this was the most challenging race of my life, it tested my abilities in so many ways!!

I am glad I ran it, and can actually say that up until mile 11, I was having a great time! It was -6 at the end of the race, and they say it was a "feels like" temp of -20 because of the wind!!!!

I feel like a beast having completed this run!!! Great way to start the New Year!!!

Now I am looking forward to running during the Tinkerbell 1/2 Marathon Weekend in California!! The  race start temps look like they are going to be in the 40's!!!!!! That is going to feel amazing!! :)